Common Causes of Personal Injury Lawsuits: Here’s What You Need to Know

A personal injury lawsuit, as the name implies, arises from harm to one person caused by another. These types of lawsuits often result in an injury that requires medical attention and time away from work.

Wall, McLean & Gallagher LLC, a law firm with offices in Helena and Anaconda, has extensive experience in this area of law. They’ve helped hundreds of people through personal injury cases and have tried cases in state and federal court and have argued cases before the Montana Supreme Court.

What prompts a personal injury lawsuit?

Personal injuries leading to a lawsuit can arise from a variety of causes, including car accidents, premise liability (injury caused on someone’s property, such as a slip and fall), medical negligence (caused by doctors, hospitals, or other healthcare providers), injuries caused by animals (such as dog bites), injuries caused by serving alcohol to someone (called dram shop laws), and intentional injuries (such as assaults).

If you’ve suffered an injury after being in an accident that was not at all your fault, it’s always a good idea to consult a lawyer.

What am I entitled to in a personal injury case?

A question that experienced attorneys can answer is whether a person who suffers a physical injury caused by another is entitled to payment for those injuries, or “damages.” Damages can take many forms, but in personal injury lawsuits, damages generally represent the amount of money which will fairly compensate a person for all the loss caused by injury.

What are the most common types of damages?

Personal injury actions often result in three types of damages. The first includes “hard” damages, such as for lost wages, incurred medical expenses, and to recover the cost of any purchases necessitated by the injury (like crutches). These types of damages can be easily calculated if they are supported by paystubs, tax records, and medical bills, so it’s important to keep a good record.

The second type of damages is known as “general” damages. These can include the amount of pain, suffering, worrying, and mental anguish which result from the injury. If a person has a permanent injury and, as a result, can no longer engage in certain activities, then that person may be able to claim damages in the form of a loss of ability to pursue a normal course of life. These damages are not easily calculated and citizen jurors are instructed to use “calm and reasonable judgment” in determining these amounts.

Third, in rare cases, a jury may award punitive damages. Punitive damages are not necessarily to compensate the victim, but to punish the person who caused the injury and to deter such conduct in the future. A jury must find that the person who caused the injury acted with intent, malice, or a reckless disregard for his or her actions, as opposed to just negligence. These types of damages require a higher standard of proof.

Do I have a case?

Regardless of the nature of your injury, an experienced attorney can guide you and help you determine if you have a case and what type of damages you may be able to recover given the circumstances. But there are important time limits — usually one to three years from the date of your injury — in which you must take action in order to legally pursue it.

With offices in Helena and Anaconda, the trial lawyers at Wall, McLean & Gallagher LLC have over 60 years of combined legal experience and are passionate about representing hometown Montanans. They specialize in personal injury, car accidents, employment cases, wage claims, real estate disputes, dissolution, estates, and estate planning. For more information, visit them online or call (406) 442-1054.